That was not a good weekend.
I'm sure I'm not the only Brewers fan to have sat through the last few innings of yesterday's game in Kansas City thinking about trading Carlos Lee. Not even "whether" or "when" but "for what." I suppose the Crew could go on a seven game run this week, with four games at Wrigley and three more against the Twins, but barring that, I'd say it's time to put everyone over the age of thirty on the block.
Obviously, the guy we're going to get the most value for is El Caballo. There are plenty of potential suitors--depending on how you feel about Alfonso Soriano, Carlos is the best hitter who might be on the market this summer. Just about any team could use him: the Yankees, the Tigers, the White Sox (!), the Cardinals, the Astros, and the Angels, just to name a few. Yankee fans are already foaming at the mouth because the Brewers are scouting golden boy Philip Hughes.
But I don't think Carlos is going to be traded to the Yankees. It does make a lot of sense, but I don't think Hughes will be enough--sure, he's got the talent, the high ceiling, all of that, but I don't think Melvin will pull the trigger on a deal where the major piece we get back needs another full year in the minors, as Hughes might.
The deal that makes the most sense, purely on an analysis of each team's needs, is Carlos to the Cardinals for a package headed by Anthony Reyes. If the Cardinals are going to compete in the postseason this year, they need not only stronger outfield corners, but they need more durability, and Carlos certainly gives you that. And there's no doubt that Melvin would jump at the chance to add someone like Reyes to the rotation. The sticking point: they're in the division. I really wouldn't mind seeing Carlos in red a few times, but the Cardinals might have a problem seeing Reyes come back against them a few times each year until 2011.
Here's the deal that I'm suddenly convinced will happen. Carlos Lee will go to the Angels for a package headed by Jeff Mathis. Maybe, because the Angels are down on Dallas MacPherson, we can get him, too. The Angels are just barely on the fringes of the race, but they still consider themselves in it--after all, they chased down the A's last year, and the Rangers will wilt under the 102 degree heat in Arlington.
Mathis had a dreadful April in the big leagues--perhaps he wasn't quite ready--but scout have loved his defense and believed in his bat for years. He was the Angels catcher-of-the-future until, this May, all of the sudden he wasn't, and Mike Napoli started playing well enough to make LA fans forget about Mathis. Well, we need a catcher of the future. Damian's under contract for next year, so Mathis could be a 60-70 game backup next year and take over the job in 2008. We'd have him under our control for just as long as we do the Prince/Rickie/Corey/JJ squadron.
I'm convinced, however, that this deal needs to happen fast. As I said, the Angels are barely in the race. In a month, they might have given up on the season, looking to trade their own vets. But of all the teams with a need for Caballo, they're the main one that has position-player talent to trade. And while I wouldn't mind picking up a top-shelf pitching talent like Reyes, Hughes, or maybe Humberto Sanchez from the Tigers, we suddenly have a system stocked with pitching prospects. We can always use more, but I'd set that priority below the importance of getting at least one catcher who could take over for Damian.